Do you have a kid/kids in your family who get home from their epic day at school and want to eat you out of house and home?
Do you get stuck for after school snack ideas that don’t involve milo or chips?
When kids are hungry in the afternoons, it’s a perfect opportunity to provide them with nourishing, nutrient dense food. Hungry kids are much more motivated to partake of or try healthy foods, especially if you make it the only option. The more that kids are exposed to healthy foods, the more they’ll learn to accept and enjoy them.
Our taste buds renew their cells every two weeks. This means that if we continually eat a food over a few weeks we can develop a taste for it. Continuing to offer your kids a wide range of nutritious foods each day, especially when they’re hungry, will be an important part of them growing up to love and enjoy healthy food.
Here are some afternoon snack ideas that you can offer your kids when they walk through the door, ‘starving’, after a long day at school:
Fruit and Vegetable Tasting Plate
Kids are much more likely to eat fruit and vegetables if they’re cut up and put in front of them. Create a delicious, bright and colourful plate of cut up fresh fruit and vegetables and place it on the coffee table or kitchen bench. Don’t offer anything else to eat. Just pop it down without a word and walk away. You can nibble on it across the afternoon and I guarantee that if you have no other food on offer, curiosity and hunger will overcome your kids and they will happily tuck in or at least give something a try.
Do this once or twice a week and you’ll be surprised by what your kids will start eating. You’ll also find that fruit and vegetables won’t dull their appetite when you offer them nutritious food for dinner.
Check out our post on How to Make a Fruit and Vegetable Tasting Plate for more information.
Make up a trail mix in little snap lock bags for your kids to nibble on that include nuts, seeds, dried coconut and dried fruit.
With most schools these days ‘nut free’, kids who are fine to eat nuts are not regularly eating these highly nutritious and delicious whole foods. Afternoon tea is the perfect opportunity to chuck them into your kid’s day. They are a great source of healthy fats, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. The presence of this nutrition means they’re quite satisfying as well.
Nuts are not only an important for daily nourishment. They are also an important part of jaw and mouth muscle and motor development. Nuts are relatively difficult to chew, compared to other foods, and it’s really important, especially for younger kids, to develop the muscle tone and motor control of their jaw by chewing challenging foods regularly. It’s also an important part of minimising long term fussiness.
Yoghurt and Muesli Parfait
Very active kids who engage in lots of sport will benefit from having breakfast again for afternoon tea. Why not try making them a layered afternoon snack of Greek yoghurt, natural muesli, fruit and honey. It’ll fill them up, re-fill their energy tanks and also offer them plenty of good nutrition as well.
Tuna & Corn Mix
One of the best ways to re-fill your kid’s tummy at the end of the day is with a good source of protein and healthy carbohydrate. They may want sugary foods or processed crackers, but long term, teaching them to love whole foods will set them up well for life. A super easy and quick whole foods snack is grabbing an 80g tin of tuna, mixing it with a small can of corn kernels (drained), a little bit of grated cheese and pulled together with a little dollop of mayonnaise. Yum!
Vegetable Sticks and Dip
Most kids love to dip. Try popping some carrot sticks, sugar snap peas, capsicum sticks and cucumber sticks out with some hummus or yoghurt based dip. Even an avocado or French onion dip is fine as we usually only consume a small amount. If it helps your kids eat more vegetables, I think that’s always a good thing.
If your kids are happy to eat vegetables and need a little something more add some high fibre, whole grain crackers to the plate. If you need more snack ideas using vegetables check out this post: 9 Vegetable Snacks.
Smoothies are a great filling snack that can offer lots of energy into your child’s day, especially important for really active kids. Throw some fruit, milk, yoghurt and anything else you have on hand like honey, oats, coconut, chia seeds, psyllium husk and blend away. Offer it with a straw and your kids will happily suck away for afternoon tea.
We have a great smoothie recipe to try here.
Never underestimate how satisfying a piece or two of fruit can be. You can also pair fruit with another food to make a great, satisfying and nutritious snack.
- fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries) – you could add them to a tub of yoghurt
- pineapple slices – you could serve it with toasted coconut flakes
- watermelon cubes – you could pair it with other melon like rock melon or honey dew
- a whole banana or apple
- banana slices – it’s delicious sprinkled with a tsp of milo
- apple or pear slices – add it with slices of tasty cheese or spread it with peanut or almond butter
- orange wedges or circles
If you’re stuck for more ideas don’t forget to check out the snack section of our recipe collection!
In the end, feeding your kids is highly individualised. A child’s food intake is highly depended on their energy expenditure. It’s just as important that we don’t overfeed our children as to not underfeed them. Keep high sugar, highly processed foods and sugary drinks to very rare circumstances and encourage healthy habits in your home by setting a good example yourself.
If you’re struggling with figuring out what healthy eating looks like, we can help. Our team understands everyday life and the pressures that we face each day with putting healthy food on the table. We can help you with both you and your child’s everyday nutrition.